WBEZ | police brutality http://www.wbez.org/tags/police-brutality Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Baltimore Residents Wary As Freddie Gray Trials Slated To Begin http://www.wbez.org/news/baltimore-residents-wary-freddie-gray-trials-slated-begin-113989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/west-baltimore-jtsuboike-0520-edit_custom-93a132c59f88d95638274897d4efd9e93cb0e541-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457429505" previewtitle="A mural for Freddie Gray is seen at the intersection of North Mount and Presbury streets where he was arrested in April."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A mural for Freddie Gray is seen at the intersection of North Mount and Presbury streets where he was arrested in April." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/25/west-baltimore-jtsuboike-0520-edit_custom-93a132c59f88d95638274897d4efd9e93cb0e541-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="A mural for Freddie Gray is seen at the intersection of North Mount and Presbury streets where he was arrested in April. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>It&#39;s been seven months since protests over the death of an unarmed black man after his arrest erupted into looting and arson, leading Baltimore&#39;s mayor to declare a curfew and call in the National Guard. Now, that unrest remains a potent backdrop as the trial begins for the first of six police officers charged in Freddie Gray&#39;s death.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I just want peace while the trial is going on,&quot; says Missa Grant, standing at a bus stop across a busy intersection from the former CVS that became a televised symbol of the violence. The store was looted, set fire to, and eventually torn down. The walls of a new red brick structure are now halfway up.</p><div id="res457429084" previewtitle="A building is now under construction at the intersection of Pennsylvania and West North avenues where a CVS Pharmacy was destroyed in the riots."><div><div><p>Grant says if the evidence shows the officers are not guilty, so be it. But with such a long and growing list of unarmed black men killed by police all over the country, she doesn&#39;t think everyone will see it that way</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I believe there&#39;s going to be another riot, I really do,&quot; she says. &quot;It&#39;s not what I&#39;m looking for. But I really believe that they&#39;re going to react out if somebody doesn&#39;t have to stand up for what happened to Freddie Gray.&quot;</p><p>The officers face six separate, consecutive trials, on charges ranging from second-degree depraved heart murder to misconduct in office.</p><p><img alt="A building is now under construction at the intersection of Pennsylvania and West North avenues where a CVS Pharmacy was destroyed in the riots." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/25/west-baltimore-jtsuboike-0143-edit_custom-03e6f3ec9119564a797d54a5818b50a1396dc72b-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="A building is now under construction at the intersection of Pennsylvania and West North avenues where a CVS Pharmacy was destroyed in the riots. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></p><p>Officer William Porter is the first up, charged with manslaughter, assault, and reckless endangerment. He was called in as backup after Gray&#39;s arrest, and was present at several stops of the police paddy wagon in which the 25-year-old man was transported, handcuffed and in leg irons.</p><p>According to charging documents, Porter was present when Gray said he couldn&#39;t breathe.&nbsp;The <em>Baltimore Sun</em>&nbsp;has reported that Porter told police investigators he informed the van&#39;s driver that Gray was in medical distress, though also wondered if he was faking it. Prosecutors say they are trying Porter first because he is a &quot;material witness&quot; against at least two other officers.</p><p>&quot;Porter is going to be the key to everything,&quot; says A. Dwight Pettit, a Baltimore defense attorney not involved in the case. &quot;What he negotiates or doesn&#39;t negotiate, whether he&#39;s acquitted or whether he&#39;s convicted, he is going to be the determiner of how the other five proceed.&quot;</p><p>Pettit is the first to allege systemic racism among Baltimore police. He&#39;s won a long string of civil cases over excessive force. The city&#39;s paid out millions to settle such claims in recent years. Yet Pettit says the this case is no &quot;slam dunk,&quot; despite that video of Gray&#39;s arrest that played over and over on cable TV.</p><p>&quot;That video is very inconclusive in many areas,&quot; he says, as is the &quot;cause of death. It&#39;s going to be a major war between pathologists as to how he died. Ample opportunity to paint reasonable doubt.&quot;</p><div id="res457428970" previewtitle="TOP: Baltimore defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit has won a string of civil cases over excessive force. LEFT: Tanya Preacher says she's hoping for convictions. RIGHT: Missa Grant thinks another riot may happen if the evidence shows the officers are not guilty."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="TOP: Baltimore defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit has won a string of civil cases over excessive force. LEFT: Tanya Preacher says she's hoping for convictions. RIGHT: Missa Grant thinks another riot may happen if the evidence shows the officers are not guilty." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/25/wbaltimore-composite_custom-e1d30e3424238dd8fb6b47b3a6400a030c5fd1c6-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 624px; width: 620px;" title="TOP: Baltimore defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit has won a string of civil cases over excessive force. LEFT: Tanya Preacher says she's hoping for convictions. RIGHT: Missa Grant thinks another riot may happen if the evidence shows the officers are not guilty. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Outside Mondawmin Mall, where high school students started the spasm of looting the day of Gray&#39;s funeral, Tanya Peacher says she&#39;s hoping for convictions.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;It&#39;s just going to be lack of respect even more for the police now, if they don&#39;t be found guilty,&quot; she says.</p><p>Like many here, Peacher says she, her children and neighbors have had bad run-ins with police. However the Freddie Gray trials turn out, she doesn&#39;t see that changing.</p><p>&quot;Because one stupid cop is going to do something stupid again, then it&#39;s going to be on camera again,&quot; she says. &quot;It&#39;s not the end, it&#39;s just going to be bad.&quot;</p><p>Adding to tensions, Peacher thinks Baltimore police have pulled back since last spring&#39;s unrest, fueling a homicide rate that&#39;s hit record levels.</p><div id="res457427091" previewtitle="A memorial is seen on West Baltimore street at the site of the city's 300th homicide this year, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2015 in Baltimore, MD."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A memorial is seen on West Baltimore street at the site of the city's 300th homicide this year, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2015 in Baltimore, MD." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/25/west-baltimore-jtsuboike-0361-edit-dae441c22dc9dd4e956ae901aa70430516bcb943-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="A memorial is seen on West Baltimore street at the site of the city's 300th homicide this year, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2015 in Baltimore, MD. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>At a makeshift memorial on a residential West Baltimore street, purple, gold and red balloons tied to a pedestrian crossing sign mark the city&#39;s 300th homicide this year, a number not seen since the &#39;90s. Neighbor Ray Bond blames drug dealers, and he&#39;s frustrated this kind of killing doesn&#39;t galvanize people the way Freddie Gray&#39;s death has.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;You&#39;re killing each other every day, people that you grew up with,&quot; he says. &quot;You shooting them every day. But when an officer does something? All hell break out.&quot;</p><p>A short drive away,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.noboundariescoalition.com/">the No Boundaries Coalition</a>&nbsp;has seen one good thing come out of all the bad: more money for its grassroots community development work.</p><p>&quot;I think we can&#39;t get lost in the trials,&quot; says organizer Ray Kelly. &quot;I think we have to remember to focus on the systemic oppression, so to speak, that led up to Freddie Gray being able to just be killed in a paddy wagon. I mean, that wasn&#39;t unique.&quot;</p><p>Kelly&#39;s group wants more teeth for the civilian review board that oversees the police department. It also wants to double voter turnout in the zip code where Freddie Gray lived. It&#39;s been stunningly low, in the single digits for two of the past three elections.</p><div id="res457426723" previewtitle="Pedestrians walk on West North Avenue in Baltimore. On Monday, the trial begins for the first of six police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Pedestrians walk on West North Avenue in Baltimore. On Monday, the trial begins for the first of six police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/25/west-baltimore-jtsuboike-0227-edit-e8fa23366b6615b5aa0b444033c268bf1e977cb1-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Pedestrians walk on West North Avenue in Baltimore. On Monday, the trial begins for the first of six police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Last week Kelly organized a &quot;know your rights&quot; meeting with officials from the Justice Department, which is investigating whether there&#39;s a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing in Baltimore. The forum was a chance to air all kinds of grievances, from police abuse to poor schools to lead poisoning. Yet despite Kelly&#39;s efforts to publicize the meeting, hardly any local residents turned out.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I&#39;m very disappointed,&quot; he said, as he surveyed a church hall full of mostly empty round tables.</p><p>Kelly wants residents to get more involved, and to feel safe, no matter the outcome of the trials.</p><p>While Freddie Gray&#39;s death and the charges against police may have brought new attention to Baltimore&#39;s problems, an uphill struggle remains over how to fix them.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/29/457404032/baltimore-residents-wary-as-freddie-gray-trials-slated-to-begin?ft=nprml&amp;f=457404032" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 12:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/baltimore-residents-wary-freddie-gray-trials-slated-begin-113989 Chicago Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Teen Due In Court http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-officer-who-fatally-shot-teen-due-court-113982 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/vandyke jason mugshot.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO&nbsp;(AP) &mdash; A white&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;police officer charged with murder after a squad car video caught him fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times is expected in court Monday to learn if a judge will offer him bond and allow his release from jail.</p><p>Officer Jason Van Dyke has been locked up since Nov. 24, when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. A judge ordered he be held without bail but scheduled a bond hearing for Monday afternoon.</p><p>On the same day, authorities released the dashcam video that shows McDonald &mdash; armed with a small knife and walking down a street on the city&#39;s southwest side &mdash; being shot repeatedly by the 37-year-old Van Dyke.</p><p>A judge had ordered the video released the previous week. On Tuesday, Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Anita Alvarez said she had decided a few weeks earlier to charge Van Dyke with murder and was planning to announce charges in a month. But knowing the intense public anger that the sight of the &quot;chilling&quot; video would generate, she announced the charges before the video&#39;s release in an effort to encourage calm.</p><p>Van Dyke&#39;s attorney will almost certainly ask the judge to set a bond that Van Dyke can post. Last week, he reassured the judge that Van Dyke is not a flight risk, explaining that he has deep ties to the community, lives with his wife and two children in&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;and does not possess a passport.</p><p>In the audio-free video, McDonald can be seen walking down the middle of a four-lane street. He appears to veer away from two officers as they emerge from a vehicle, drawing their guns. One of the officers, Van Dyke, opens fire from close range. McDonald spins around and crumples to the ground. The officer continues to fire.</p><p>Van Dyke&#39;s attorney, Dan Herbert, maintains that his client feared for his life, acted lawfully and that the video does not tell the whole story. Police have said that McDonald was carrying a knife and an autopsy revealed that he had PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, in his system. Alvarez said last week that the 3-inch blade recovered from the scene had been folded into the handle.</p><p>Protesters have marched on&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;streets since the video&#39;s release. The largest and most disruptive protest blocked off part of Michigan Avenue in the downtown shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile on Black Friday, preventing access to big name stores on what is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-officer-who-fatally-shot-teen-due-court-113982 City to Pay $100,000 to Photojournalist Who Alleged Police Brutality http://www.wbez.org/news/city-pay-100000-photojournalist-who-alleged-police-brutality-113979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Joshua Lott.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago will pay $100,000 to a photojournalist who says prominent police officers beat him and destroyed one of his cameras during the 2012 NATO summit, according to a settlement reached this month.</p><p>Freelance photographer Joshua Lott&rsquo;s federal lawsuit named six officers as defendants, including Glenn Evans, promoted by Supt. Garry McCarthy to command the Grand Crossing police district three months after the summit. Evans now awaits trial on felony charges in a separate case of alleged excessive force.</p><p>The defendants also include Matthew E. Tobias, a deputy chief who retired a few weeks after the summit, and Christopher Taliaferro, promoted to sergeant five months after the summit and elected by West Side voters to an aldermanic seat this year.</p><p>The incident took place May 20, 2012, as Lott was covering a downtown NATO protest for Getty Images. He said he was carrying two cameras and his press credentials when he saw two officers mistreating a young man.</p><p>&ldquo;They had him down on the ground and they were beating him with batons,&rdquo; Lott said. &ldquo;The officers that were beating him just weren&rsquo;t happy that I was taking pictures and told me I needed to leave. I indicated that I was a working journalist and who I was working for.&rdquo;</p><p>The officers returned to beating the young man, Lott said. The journalist kept taking photos.</p><p>&ldquo;They came over and approached me a second time,&rdquo; Lott said. &ldquo;They took me off to the side of the road and threw me to ground, and I had numerous officers beating me the same way they were beating the kid that I was photographing &mdash; with the batons &mdash; and stomping on me.&rdquo;</p><p>Lott said Evans, a lieutenant at the time, &ldquo;hit me a bunch of times&rdquo; using a baton. Tobias slammed the camera to the ground &ldquo;like a football spike,&rdquo; Lott said.</p><p>Taliaferro, who unseated Ald. Deborah Graham (29th Ward) this past April, was not present during the alleged beating but helped bring a misdemeanor reckless-conduct charge against Lott. The lawsuit accused Taliaferro of &ldquo;knowing there was no probable cause&rdquo; to support the charge.</p><p>In a text message to WBEZ, Taliaferro claimed he had &ldquo;nothing to do with the facts or circumstances&rdquo; of the incident and merely worked as a &ldquo;booking officer during a mass-arrest procedure and should not have been included as a defendant in this case.&rdquo;</p><p>A Cook County judge dismissed the charge against Lott six weeks after the arrest. The photographer&rsquo;s attorneys said the officers had failed to appear in court.</p><p>Separately, Evans is scheduled for trial next week in the felony case. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/commander-pleads-not-guilty-police-brutality-charges-110843">Prosecutors have accused him</a> of putting the barrel of his gun into a suspect&rsquo;s mouth and a Taser to his groin while threatening his life during a 2013 incident.</p><p>In Lott&rsquo;s lawsuit, Evans sat for a deposition last July but refused to answer hundreds of questions. The commander cited his Fifth Amendment rights.</p><p>The Lott case is among at least seven instances in which Evans has used allegedly excessive force leading to lawsuits and city payments to the plaintiffs, according to a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ousted-commander-leaves-trail-costly-lawsuits-110786">WBEZ review of court filings and city Law Department records</a>. The payouts total $324,999, not counting tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses.</p><p>All the settlements specify that the city and Evans deny wrongdoing and liability.</p><p>Law Department officials did not answer WBEZ questions about Lott&rsquo;s case but the city denied his allegations in court filings. Neither Evans&rsquo; attorney nor Tobias returned calls.</p><p>The other defendants in Lott&rsquo;s lawsuit included Sgt. Ricky O&rsquo;Neal and officers Marek Grobla and Gary Hughes, who could not be reached for comment.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 08:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-pay-100000-photojournalist-who-alleged-police-brutality-113979 Hundreds Block Retail Entrances in Protest of Laquan McDonald Investigation http://www.wbez.org/news/hundreds-block-retail-entrances-protest-laquan-mcdonald-investigation-113965 <p><div><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">▲&nbsp;</span><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">LISTEN:</strong><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">&nbsp;</span><em>Hear the scene on the&nbsp;Magnificent Mile from WBEZ&#39;s Linda Lutton, who spoke with&nbsp;protesters&nbsp;and shoppers during Friday&#39;s protests.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>CHICAGO (AP) &mdash;&nbsp;Hundreds of protesters blocked store entrances and shut down traffic in&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;ritziest shopping district on Black Friday to draw attention to the 2014 police killing of a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white officer.</div><p style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, Geneva; font-size: 15px; line-height: 15px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">&nbsp;</p><div><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Protesters line Michigan Ave sidewalks, block stores. &quot;Shut it down! Justice for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Laquan?src=hash">#Laquan</a>&quot; <a href="https://t.co/0iiAkdogxs">pic.twitter.com/0iiAkdogxs</a></p>&mdash; WBEZeducation (@WBEZeducation) <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation/status/670308391999418368">November 27, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Demonstrators stood shoulder to shoulder in a cold drizzling rain to turn the traditional start of the holiday shopping season on Michigan Avenue&#39;s Magnificent Mile into a high-profile platform from which to deliver their message: The killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald &mdash; captured on a&nbsp;squad car&nbsp;video made public earlier this week &mdash; was another example of what they say is the systemic disregard police show for the lives and rights of black people.</p><p>They chanted &quot;16 shots! 16 shots!&quot; and stopped traffic for blocks to express their anger over&nbsp;the Oct.&nbsp;20, 2014, shooting and the subsequent investigation, which they say was mishandled.</p><p style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, Geneva; font-size: 15px; line-height: 15px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1112.JPG" style="text-align: center; height: 437px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/235045297&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe><p>While shoppers continued to make their way along sidewalks and the empty street, some major retailers were forced to close, at least temporarily. Among them was the typically swamped Apple store, where dozens of employees in red shirts stood in an otherwise empty two-story space and watched through store windows as protesters linked arms to stop anyone from entering.</p><p>It was the largest demonstration in&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;streets since police on Tuesday released the video under a court order to make it public.</p><p>The footage shows McDonald jogging down a street and then veering away from Officer Jason Van Dyke and another officer who emerge from a police SUV drawing their guns. Within seconds, Van Dyke begins firing. McDonald, who authorities allege was carrying a three-inch knife and was suspected of breaking into cars, spins around and falls to the pavement as Van Dyke keeps shooting.</p><p>Prosecutors charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder on Tuesday, hours before the video&#39;s release.</p><p>Frank Chapman, 73, of&nbsp;Chicago, said the video confirms what activists have said for years about&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;police brutality.</p><p>&quot;That needs to end,&quot; Chapman said. &quot;Too many have already died.&quot;</p><p>Chicago&nbsp;police blocked off roads to accommodate the march down Michigan Avenue, and officers in some areas formed a barrier of sorts between protesters and stores and helped shoppers get through the doors. But protesters succeeded in blocking main entrances on both sides of the street for more than three blocks.</p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_0537.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Demonstrators block the entrance of AT&amp;T on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /><p>When one person tried to get through the front door of Saks Fifth Avenue, protesters screamed at him, shouting, &quot;Shut it down! Shut it down.&quot; Entrances were also blocked at the Disney Store, the Apple Store, Nike, Tiffany &amp; Co., and Neiman Marcus, among others.</p><p>Several protesters were seen lying face-down on the ground in handcuffs, but a police spokeswoman said she hadn&#39;t been informed of any arrests.</p><p>Shoppers seemed to take the disturbance in stride, with some even snapping photos of the crowd.</p><p>&quot;Honestly it&#39;s the cold that&#39;s likely to scare us away first,&quot; said Christopher Smithe, who was visiting from London with his girlfriend.</p><p>With the rain and the protests, there seemed to be less foot traffic than on a normal Black Friday, said John Curran, vice president of the Magnificent Mile Association, which represents 780 businesses on North Michigan Avenue.</p><p>&quot;The storefronts that were blocked by the demonstrators certainly had an impact on some of the businesses,&quot; he said.</p><p>Throughout the week, protesters have expressed anger over the video of the shooting. They&#39;ve also harshly&nbsp;criticised&nbsp;the department for its months-long effort to prevent the video from being released and the state&#39;s attorney&#39;s office for taking more than a year to file charges against Van Dyke, despite having footage of the incident.</p><p>All previous marches have been largely peaceful. There have been isolated clashes between police and protesters, with about 10 arrests and only a few minor reports of property damage.</p><p>Van Dyke is being held without bond. His attorney said Van Dyke feared for his life when he fired at McDonald and that the case should be tried in an actual courtroom, not the court of public opinion.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/hundreds-block-retail-entrances-protest-laquan-mcdonald-investigation-113965 Since Ferguson, A Rise In Charges Against Police Officers http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-rise-charges-against-police-officers-113953 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-498665158_custom-9c648367ac84089a77935afb947a597730c6d83b-s700-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457423605" previewtitle="Demonstrators march through downtown Chicago on Tuesday following the release of a video showing Jason Van Dyke, a police officer, shooting and killing Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the October 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. So far this year, 15 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Demonstrators march through downtown Chicago on Tuesday following the release of a video showing Jason Van Dyke, a police officer, shooting and killing Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the October 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. So far this year, 15 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/25/gettyimages-498665158_custom-9c648367ac84089a77935afb947a597730c6d83b-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Demonstrators march through downtown Chicago on Tuesday following the release of a video showing Jason Van Dyke, a police officer, shooting and killing Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder for the October 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. So far this year, 15 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>A question some in Chicago are asking after<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/24/457233148/first-degree-murder-charge-for-chicago-police-officer-who-shot-teen">&nbsp;the release of a video that shows a police officer fatally shooting a black teen</a>: <em>Did prosecutors charge the officer who killed Laquan McDonald only because they had to &mdash; because the video was about to come out?</em></p></div></div></div><p>Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Anita Alvarez rejected that notion Tuesday.</p><p>&quot;Pressure? This is no pressure! Why &mdash; I would never be pressured into making any kind of decision, quickly,&quot; she said.</p><p>But across the country, prosecutors do seem to be under more pressure to charge police &mdash; especially in the year since police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.</p><p>Homicide charges against police are pretty rare; they average about five cases a year. That number comes from Phil Stinson, a former-cop-turned-academic who collects statistics like this at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.</p><p>Stinson says the average is actually slightly less than five cases a year &mdash; but that&#39;s the average for the past decade. This year is looking a little different.</p><p>&quot;As of today, we now have 15 officers who&#39;ve been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting where they&#39;ve shot and killed somebody,&quot; he says.</p><div id="con457426068" previewtitle="Related Stories"><div id="res457425882"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><div id="res457426024">It&#39;s an interesting jump &mdash; but Stinson&#39;s not ready to draw any conclusions yet.</div></div><p>&quot;It&#39;s hard to say if we&#39;re seeing a pattern, a change in prosecutorial behavior, anything like that, because we&#39;re dealing with such small numbers,&quot; Stinson says. &quot;We&#39;re dealing with outliers.&quot;</p><p>Statistics aside, though, he does think the justice system is giving police less benefit of the doubt than it did when he was a young cop.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s being chipped away,&quot; he says. &quot;I think that now we&#39;re not taking officers at their word, and that people are looking a little bit closer. And I think that goes for prosecutors as well.&quot;</p><p>Still, there&#39;s a lot of skepticism about whether prosecutors can be objective about the police, whom they work with every day.</p><p>That skepticism grows when the decision to charge them seems to drag out, as it did in McDonald&#39;s case in Chicago, until the video came out &mdash; or in Cleveland, where it&#39;s been<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/20/456626171/for-family-of-tamir-rice-an-inauspicious-anniversary">a year since a police officer shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice</a>.</p><p>Jonathan Abady is one of the lawyers representing Rice&#39;s mother; he believes prosecutors there have been using that time to weaken their own case against the officer.</p><p>&quot;It seems to us that it&#39;s taking a year because this prosecutor is more interested in protecting the police, and what they&#39;ve been doing for that year is searching for people who would be willing to call what is clearly in our view an unreasonable police shooting justified,&quot; Abady says.</p><p>The prosecutor in Cleveland calls that theory &quot;baseless,&quot; and in fact, legal experts say it really isn&#39;t fair to assume that the fix is in, just because a charging decision is taking a long time.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not a race,&quot; says Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School and a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.</p><p>&quot;There are good strategic reasons for a prosecutor actually not to bring the charges just because they can bring the charges so quickly,&quot; she says.</p><p>Once you&#39;ve file charges, Levenson says, it gets harder to collect evidence against an officer.</p><p>And people don&#39;t realize how hard it is to make a case against cops; they usually have great lawyers, and they still get more sympathy from juries than the average murder defendant. Prosecutors have their work cut out for them, she says, even when there is a video.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/25/457415588/since-ferguson-a-rise-in-charges-against-police-officers?ft=nprml&amp;f=457415588" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ferguson-rise-charges-against-police-officers-113953 Video of S.C. deputy throwing student to ground prompts inquiry, outrage http://www.wbez.org/news/video-sc-deputy-throwing-student-ground-prompts-inquiry-outrage-113520 <p><div id="res452211041" previewtitle="Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., was the scene of a disturbing arrest Monday, setting off a flurry of online comments and outrage."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., was the scene of a disturbing arrest Monday, setting off a flurry of online comments and outrage." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/spring-valley_wide-b1eff903ff49354a13919e73e501c236fd7a63a3-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., was the scene of a disturbing arrest Monday, setting off a flurry of online comments and outrage. (Google Maps)" /></div><div><div><p>Authorities are investigating a classroom incident between a white sheriff&#39;s deputy and a black high school student in Columbia, S.C., in which video shows the deputy, a school resource officer, flipping the female student&#39;s desk backward and dragging her to the ground.</p></div></div></div><p>The Richland County sheriff has asked the FBI to investigate. School officials also say they&#39;re investigating. Columbia&#39;s Mayor Steve Benjamin also called for an independent investigation, as did the school district&#39;s Black Parents Association.</p><p>With an investigation ongoing, the deputy has been shifted to other duties and ordered not to visit any schools, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article41478366.html">The State</a>&nbsp;newspaper.</p><div id="res452210749"><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HN966KxyoIU?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></div></div><p>The incident took place Monday at Spring Valley High School, after Deputy Ben Fields of the sheriff&#39;s department was called on to remove a student who had reportedly been disruptive and refused to leave the classroom.</p><p>After two separate videos of the confrontation were posted to social media, they were widely shared and drew thousands of comments online. Other recordings have since surfaced, showing the incident from more angles.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Even worse angle. RT <a href="https://twitter.com/HIFTBABG">@HIFTBABG</a>: Wtf... <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh?src=hash">#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh</a> I&#39;m disgusted <a href="https://t.co/fPlCM2iUtm">pic.twitter.com/fPlCM2iUtm</a></p>&mdash; justin kanew (@justin_kanew) <a href="https://twitter.com/justin_kanew/status/658865742587125760">October 27, 2015</a></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has seen a video &quot;and was very disturbed by what he saw,&quot; department spokesman Lt. Curtis Wilson tells&nbsp;The State. Wilson says Lott is currently out of town at a law enforcement conference.</p><p>Several students in the classroom took videos of the confrontation, which one of them says &quot;was definitely a scary experience.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I have never seen anything so nasty-looking, so sick, to the point where other students are turning away, you know, don&#39;t know what to do,&quot; student Tony Robinson Jr.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wltx.com/story/news/local/2015/10/27/student-who-videotaped-incident-speaks-out/74664592/">tells local TV WLTX 19</a>. &quot;That&#39;s supposed to be somebody that&#39;s going to protect us, not somebody that we need to be scared of, or afraid.&quot;</p><p>Robinson says the incident took place around midmorning Monday, moments after the deputy was called to the classroom, a step that he says was taken after the female student refused to turn over a cellphone &mdash; first to a teacher and then to an administrator.</p><p>Robinson says he believes the deputy knew things would turn physical &mdash; he says Fields asked a neighboring student to move their desk and also removed the female student&#39;s laptop before grabbing her and pushing the desk backward.</p><p>He started recording events, Robinson tells WLTX, because he felt &quot;this is something everybody else needs to see. This is something that, we can&#39;t just let this pass by.&quot;</p><p>In the classroom, a second student was arrested, Robinson says, for &quot;literally saying what we were all thinking: &#39;This is wrong.&#39; &quot;</p><p>Both students were detained and charged with &quot;disturbing schools,&quot; according to multiple local media news outlets. They were later released into their parents&#39; custody.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">If she were &quot;disruptive&quot; in CLASS why not call in the principal, parent /guardian not cops NO justification for children <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/springvalleyhigh?src=hash">#springvalleyhigh</a></p>&mdash; MichaelaAngela Davis (@MichaelaAngelaD)<a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelaAngelaD/status/659023238857650176">October 27, 2015</a><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>In recent years, Deputy Fields has been the target of two federal lawsuits,&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/27/us/officers-classroom-fight-with-student-is-caught-on-video.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=1">The New York Times</a>&nbsp;</em>reports.</p><p>The newspaper outlines the cases, both of which allege civil rights violations by Fields. In the most recent, filed in 2013, a former Spring Valley student said Fields unfairly targeted black students.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I fully support our police force &amp; know many of you do too. Lets remember that supporting them means calling out bad cops. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SpringValleyHigh?src=hash">#SpringValleyHigh</a></p>&mdash; Danielle Butcher (@RepublicanSass) <a href="https://twitter.com/RepublicanSass/status/659049468617183232">October 27, 2015</a></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In a statement about Monday&#39;s incident, Richland School District 2 Superintendent Debbie Hamm said: &quot;Student safety is and always will be the district&#39;s top priority. The district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students.&quot;</p><p>After making initial contact about the case with the Justice Department on Monday, Sheriff Lott filed a formal request for an investigation early Tuesday, reports local&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wistv.com/story/30353999/video-shows-spring-valley-school-resource-officer-slamming-dragging-student-out-of-desk">WIS TV 10</a>.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m as upset as anybody and I&#39;m very disturbed by what I saw.&quot; Lott tells WIS. &quot;Appropriate action is going to be taken. We&#39;re going to do it as quick as possible. This isn&#39;t something that&#39;s going to linger on for weeks, or months or even days. It&#39;s going to be done very swiftly.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/27/452206430/video-of-s-c-police-officer-throwing-student-to-ground-prompts-inquiry-and-outra?ft=nprml&amp;f=452206430" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 27 Oct 2015 11:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/video-sc-deputy-throwing-student-ground-prompts-inquiry-outrage-113520 Obama to meet with police chiefs group as activists press for reforms http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-meet-police-chiefs-group-activists-press-reforms-113487 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_299673307966.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 620px;" title="President Barack Obama, listens to Charleston Police Chief, Brent Webster, front as Dr. Michael Brumage, left, Director of Drug Control Policy, Michael Boticelli, right, listen during an event at the East End Family Resource Center in Charleston, W.Va., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)" /></p><p><strong>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:</strong></p><p>President Obama is headed for Chicago next week to address police chiefs gathering from around the world. The event is putting a spotlight on the push for criminal justice reforms.</p><p>Activists in Chicago are already holding what they&#39;re calling a counter-conference. And rallies against police brutality are being held around the country. NPR&#39;s Cheryl Corley reports.</p><hr /><p><strong>TRANSCRIPT</strong></p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)</strong></p><p><strong>UNIDENTIFIED DEMONSTRATOR: </strong>Rise Up October, we can&#39;t take it no more.</p><p><strong>CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: </strong>Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in New York&#39;s Times Square for the first of three days of rallies called Rise Up October.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/15690178017_12e64b89a8_z.jpg" style="height: 334px; width: 350px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="(flickr/Elvert Barnes)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>UNIDENTIFIED DEMONSTRATOR: </strong>Say their names.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>UNIDENTIFIED DEMONSTRATORS: </strong>Say their names.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>UNIDENTIFIED DEMONSTRATOR: </strong>Say their names.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>CORLEY: </strong>Protesters read the names of people, mostly black and Latino, who died in encounters with police. Maria Hamilton&#39;s son, Dontre, was shot to death by a white Milwaukee police officer last year.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)</strong></p><p><strong>MARIA HAMILTON: </strong>No family should feel the pain that me and my family are enduring right now. This system must be torn down and rebuilt. Rise Up October.</p><p><strong>UNIDENTIFIED DEMONSTRATORS: </strong>Rise Up October.</p><p><strong>CORLEY</strong>: In the aftermath of protest and publicity about that death and others, there&#39;s been a push for reforms, from requiring officers to wear body cameras to calling for independent investigations of police shootings. Many of the country&#39;s top cops met with President Obama yesterday to talk about criminal justice reforms.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/more-100-police-chiefs-and-prosecutors-unite-cut-prison-population-113442" target="_blank">RELATED STORY: More than 100 police chiefs and prosecutors unite to cut prison population</a></strong></p><p>Next week, the president, who&#39;s set up a task force to address policing issues, will speak to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, one of the world&#39;s largest gatherings of law enforcement leaders. In Chicago, activists gathered in a conference of their own.</p><p>Camesha Jones, with Black Youth Project 100, says she commends the president&#39;s push for criminal justice reforms. But she and other activists have a different angle.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)</strong></p><p><strong>CAMESHA JONES: </strong>And we&#39;re calling for a divestment from police organizations [and] police agencies, because they&#39;re not keeping our communities safe.</p><p><strong>CORLEY: </strong>Ethan Viets Vanlear says less money for police means more should go to other programs.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)</strong></p><p><strong>ETHAN VIETS VANLEAR:</strong> Like open-enrollment, community-controlled schools, affordable and readily available housing and jobs in the black community.</p><p><strong>CORLEY:</strong> Even so, Teresa Smallwood, with the Workers Center for Racial Justice, says the desire the police chiefs&#39; group is extremely influential and has the power to change the culture of police departments. She says the activists have a list of demands they&#39;ll present to the organization.</p><p><strong>(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)</strong></p><p><strong>TERESA SMALLWOOD:</strong> End the war on communities of color by ending the failed war on drugs. Support the creation of a special prosecutor&#39;s office in every police district. Curtail the power of police unions to undermine investigations into officer misconduct.</p><p><strong>CORLEY: </strong>The activists plan to take their conference out of the building and into the streets Saturday, as they protest outside Chicago police headquarters. It&#39;s one of several rallies planned across the country, including one billed as a national protest against police brutality in New York. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.</p><p>&mdash; <em>via NPR</em></p></p> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 15:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-meet-police-chiefs-group-activists-press-reforms-113487 Is police misconduct a secret in your state? http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-10-15/police-misconduct-secret-your-state-113360 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/police misconduct wnyc.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="disciplinary-records" style="text-align: justify;">In the weeks after Cleveland Police Officer Tim Loehmann <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/06/tamir_rice_investigation_relea.html" target="_blank">shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice</a> last November, the Cleveland Plain Dealer discovered that Loehmann had <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/12/cleveland_police_officer_who_s.html" target="_blank">problems learning to use firearms</a> in his previous job. Plain Dealer reporters could access Loehmann&#39;s files because Ohio is one of a handful of states in which an officer&#39;s disciplinary and personnel records are available to the public. A new investigation by WNYC Reporter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/robertianlewis">Robert Lewis</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://datanews.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WNYC&#39;s Data News</a>&nbsp;team finds that these laws vary widely across the country. Gary MacNamara, police chief of Fairfield, Connecticut, discusses the influence of open records on his department.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div id="disciplinary-records">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript" src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/pym/0.4.3/pym.min.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> (function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( "disciplinary-records", "http://project.wnyc.org/disciplinary-records/?pym=true", {} ); })(); </script></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>More on this investigation:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/hard-truth-about-cops-who-lie/" target="_blank" title="The Hard Truth About Cops Who Lie - WNYC">The Hard Truth About Cops Who Lie</a>&nbsp;&bull;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/when-a-cops-right-to-privacy-undermines-our-right-to-a-fair-trial/" target="_blank">When a Cop&#39;s Right to Privacy Undermines Our Right to a Fair Trial</a>&nbsp;&bull;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/new-york-leads-shielding-police-misconduct/" target="_blank" title="New York Leads in Shielding Police Misconduct - WNYC">New York Leads in Shielding Police Misconduct</a>&nbsp;&bull;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/does-public-have-right-police-personnel-records/" target="_blank" title="Is Police Misconduct a Secret in Your State? - The Takeaway">Reporter Robert Lewis Discusses National Implications on The Takeaway</a></em></div><div>&mdash; <a href="http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/does-public-have-right-police-personnel-records/" target="_blank"><em>via The Takeaway</em></a></div></p> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 14:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2015-10-15/police-misconduct-secret-your-state-113360 Freddie Gray's family settles with city for $6.4M http://www.wbez.org/news/freddie-grays-family-settles-city-64m-112861 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_119833999563.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>BALTIMORE &mdash;&nbsp;The parents of Freddie Gray reached a tentative $6.4 million settlement with the city of Baltimore, nearly five months after their 25-year-old son was critically injured in police custody, sparking days of protests and rioting.</p><p>The deal, announced Tuesday, appeared to be among the largest settlements in police death cases in recent years and happened just days before a judge is set to decide whether to move a trial for six officers charged in Gray&#39;s death.</p><p>Gray&#39;s spine was injured April 12 in the back of a prisoner transport van after he was arrested. Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died at the hospital a week later. In the aftermath, Gray became a symbol of the contentious relationship between the police and the public in Baltimore, as well as the treatment of black men by police in America.</p><p>The settlement still needs the approval of a board that oversees city spending. That board will meet Wednesday morning.</p><p>&quot;The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,&quot; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a news release. &quot;This settlement is being proposed solely because it is in the best interest of the city, and avoids costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages.&quot;</p><p>Rawlings-Blake refused to comment further on Tuesday at an unrelated news conference.</p><p>The settlement does not resolve any factual disputes, and expressly does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the city, its police department or any of the officers. The settlement has nothing whatsoever to do with the criminal proceedings, the press release said.</p><p>In July, New York City settled for $5.9 million with the family of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after being put in a white police officer&#39;s chokehold. The city of&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;settled in 2001 a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of LaTanya Haggerty, who was shot to death by police, for $18 million.</p><p>The proposed payment in the Gray case is more than the $5.7 million the city of Baltimore paid in total for 102 court judgments and settlements for alleged police misconduct between 2011 and last fall, according to an investigation by The Baltimore Sun. The city paid another $5.8 million for legal fees to outside lawyers who represented officers, the newspaper reported.</p><p>Detective Donny Moses, a Baltimore Police Department spokesman, said the agency&#39;s public affairs staff was under direct orders Tuesday not to comment. Billy Murphy, an attorney for the Gray family, also declined comment.</p><p>The head of the city&#39;s police union condemned the agreement and urged the Board of Estimates to reject it.</p><p>&quot;To suggest that there is any reason to settle prior to the adjudication of the pending criminal cases is obscene and without regard to the fiduciary responsibility owed to the taxpaying citizens of the city,&quot; Lt. Gene Ryan said in a statement.</p><p>All six officers, including Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, are charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter also face a manslaughter charge, while Officer Caesar Goodson faces the most serious charge of all: second-degree &quot;depraved-heart&quot; murder.</p><p>Three of the officers are black and three are white. Their attorneys have asked the judge in the case to move their trials out of the city. The hearing is set for Thursday.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<em> The Associated Press</em></p></p> Tue, 08 Sep 2015 13:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/freddie-grays-family-settles-city-64m-112861 Fired investigator: Policy change could help cover up police misconduct http://www.wbez.org/news/fired-investigator-policy-change-could-help-cover-police-misconduct-112614 <p><p>I spent months trying to reach Lorenzo Davis, an investigator at the Independent Police Review Authority, the Chicago agency that looks into shootings by officers and police-brutality complaints. I had heard that Davis, a former police commander for the city, was clashing with his bosses, the folks in charge of the agency.<br /><br />When Davis finally called me back last month, IPRA had fired him. He had something big to tell me, and there was written evidence.<br /><br />The bosses, according to his final performance evaluation, had ordered him to change findings in at least a dozen cases, all shootings or alleged excessive-force incidents.</p><p>His findings were that the officers had violated laws or police department rules, he said. The bosses included Scott M. Ando, promoted to be chief administrator by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year.<br /><br />Davis also wanted to tell me about IPRA&rsquo;s internal procedure for handling disagreements, between the investigator and superiors, about a case&rsquo;s findings.<br /><br />For years, the procedure was for the investigator to attend a meeting with the higher-ups. &ldquo;You would discuss the case and come to some sort of consensus,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;But if you did not agree or refused to change your findings, there would be what we call an internal non-concurrence.&rdquo;<br /><br />The &ldquo;non-concurrence&rdquo; meant a boss was overturning the findings with a written explanation. That memo &mdash; an actual sheet of paper &mdash; would go on top of the case file. And the investigator&rsquo;s findings would stay in the file for all to see.<br /><br />&ldquo;This year,&rdquo; Davis said, &ldquo;Ando decided that he did not want to write a non-concurrence.&rdquo;<br /><br />The new policy, disseminated by Ando in March, says investigators &ldquo;do not have the right to refuse to make changes as directed by a superior. Anyone who refuses . . . will be considered insubordinate and may be subject to discipline.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202015-08-10%20at%2011.51.32%20PM.png" style="height: 309px; width: 620px;" title="Screencap of an email informing IPRA staff of the March policy change." /></div><p><br />The policy&rsquo;s purpose was to eliminate certain paper trails, Davis said. &ldquo;There would not be a record of what the findings were, initially, before they were changed.&rdquo;<br /><br />IPRA&rsquo;s chief administrator, of course, has always made final decisions about the agency&rsquo;s findings.</p><p>But Davis pointed out that some of these cases end up in court, which can be problematic. &ldquo;Often times, investigators and supervisors are called to do either depositions or actually appear in court to testify about a finding that they were forced to make [and] did not initially make and that they do not believe in.&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis said his bosses ordered him to change findings in six shooting cases, three of them fatal.<br /><br />Those are among nearly 400 shootings by officers that IPRA has investigated since its 2007 creation. The agency has found that just one, an off-duty incident, was unjustified.<br /><br />We asked IPRA to explain how it handles internal disagreements but did not get answers. We kept asking for the information and went ahead with our story, which broke the news of Davis&rsquo;s termination and led to a protest at the agency&rsquo;s headquarters three days later.<br /><br />&ldquo;The firing of Lorenzo Davis is yet another example of how IPRA continues to cover up crimes by officers of the Chicago Police Department,&rdquo; a protest leader said.</p><div class="image-insert-image">Later that day, IPRA delivered a written statement from Ando that said some of Davis&rsquo;s findings left out important evidence. The statement also included this line: &ldquo;No one at IPRA has ever been asked to change their findings.&rdquo;</div><p>That left us scratching our heads. We had already reported about Davis&rsquo;s final performance evaluation, which focused on his resistance to &ldquo;management directing him to change improper findings.&rdquo; We had seen the policy Ando had sent out, which threatened discipline for any investigator who refused to change a finding.<br /><br />Why would an agency&rsquo;s chief ban something he says never happens?<br /><br />We did everything we could to get an answer from the city. We called IPRA and Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s office. We sent written questions to both. We asked to interview Ando.<br /><br />Almost a week later, IPRA sent us what it called a &ldquo;revised&rdquo; statement from Ando. It was the same as the other one &mdash; except it was missing the part about the agency never ordering investigators to change their findings.<br /><br />That left us wondering whether IPRA ought to be changing an investigator&rsquo;s findings in the first place.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ando8cropsmall.jpg" style="float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Scott M. Ando, IPRA’s chief administrator. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Ando reports directly to Emanuel so we took the question to one of the mayor&rsquo;s press conferences.<br /><br />Emanuel listened to the question but did not specifically answer it. Instead he referred to a study he had commissioned. He called the study, completed last December, &ldquo;a total review of both IPRA, the Police Board, any kind of the oversight of police actions and misconduct.&rdquo;<br /><br />So we went to the study&rsquo;s main author, Ron Safer, a former top official of the U.S. attorney&rsquo;s office in Chicago.<br /><br />We asked again whether IPRA should be directing investigators to change their findings or whether it should stick to the practice in which a boss who disagrees with an investigator writes up an explanation for overturning the findings and leaves them in the file.</p><p>Safer pointed out that his study did not look at these questions. But he shared what he called his &ldquo;uninformed&rdquo; view: &ldquo;Often these are investigations where there are shades of gray and, always, where there are two sides to the story. The ultimate conclusion can be a matter of honest disagreement.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a good idea to have the investigators&rsquo; original thoughts &mdash; at least factual findings &mdash; in the record because the investigator is the closest person to the facts,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Safer, again, is the expert the mayor led us to.<br /><br />And he is not the only one with that view. We found police-accountability agencies in other big cities that handle their internal disagreements that way. The Chicago Police Department&rsquo;s Internal Affairs Division does too.<br /><br />At IPRA, nevertheless, an investigator&rsquo;s findings will not stay in the record unless the agency&rsquo;s leaders want them to.<br /><br />That brings us back to Lorenzo Davis, the investigator IPRA fired after he did not go along with the bosses. &ldquo;Usually what they want said is [a finding] that the officer had a reasonable fear for his life and, therefore, the officer used deadly force,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />In some of his shooting cases, Davis insists, deadly force was not necessary.</p><p>What worries him now is not just that those findings will be overturned but that they will be erased &mdash; that there will be no sign they ever existed.</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Lauren Chooljian contributed. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 23:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/fired-investigator-policy-change-could-help-cover-police-misconduct-112614